(A word of warning: Teddy Bear's Picnic is a short horror story. If you're squeamish, this story may not be for you. If you're brave enough, read on and enjoy.)
TEDDY BEAR'S PICNIC
“If you go out in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise.” My voice was barely a whisper. I was too afraid to be louder but I had to hear someone’s voice, even if it was only my own. I was so utterly alone, except for Basil.
“If you go out in the woods today, you better go in disguise.” I sang and stroked Basil’s brown, curly fur. I looked down into his shining, black eyes. He smiled up at me, as he always had. “For every bear that ever there was, la, la te-da, whatever, because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.”
That stupid song played over and over in my head as I stumbled through the dark woods clutching Basil to my chest. I could never remember all the words to that song. Mom knew them all by heart. She was teaching it to my little brother, Jake, earlier today. This was his first camping trip. Now they were gone. I was the only one left, just me and Basil.
Dad gave Basil to me when I was three years old. I passed him down to Jake when he was born. I was twelve then and didn’t think I needed a teddy bear anymore. I was too old for that little kid stuff. I’m sixteen now and I couldn’t hold on to him tight enough. Basil was missing an arm now. His stuffing was falling out as I squeezed his fluffy body. I pushed the stuffing back into the hole where his arm had been. I couldn’t get the image of Jake’s little hand clutching Basil’s arm and screaming as he was dragged up a tree into the darkness by some…thing.
It had ripped open our tent. I heard the nylon fabric tear and screams from everyone around me. The tent came down and for a moment I was trapped under it in total darkness. I thought I would suffocate, but I fought my way free. I could still hear Jake screaming and I could see movement in the dim light of what was left of our campfire. I ran for him, but I tripped over something and landed on my back at the base of a tree. I looked up and saw Jake’s face disappear. Basil tumbled back down the tree and landed on my head. He was missing an arm, the one Jake had been holding. As I rolled over onto my knees, I felt a hand brush my arm. I had tripped over my mother’s body. She was dead and I was kneeling in a pool of her blood.
I heard the thud of a body against metal and my Dad scream then there was no sound at all. I clutched Basil and ran away as fast as I could. The path was so dark, but at least I had a little light. My cell phone had a video feature and the light stayed on if I used it. It was useless for anything else. There were no bars in these stupid woods. I felt like screaming “can you hear me now!” at the top of my lungs, but I didn’t know what attacked us, or where it went. Now I was stumbling through the woods alone with only Basil for company and the sound of my own voice to drown out the screams in my head.
So I sang. “For every bear that ever there was…”
I hiked through the woods for what seemed like hours. I had no idea where I was. We had passed a bunch of campsites with other campers on the way in, but Dad wanted somewhere private and secluded. He used the G.P.S to find the campsite. It wasn’t even on the map the park ranger gave us. Even if I knew where the Cherokee was, Dad had the keys and he was gone too. So I kept walking and singing. “Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.”
I heard something up ahead. Voices! People, real people, other campers! If their phones worked, they could call for help. And I had to warn them that there was something out here before it got them too.
“Help! Help!” I screamed and ran toward the voices. “Help me! I’m over here!” The sound of the voices was getting louder. They were laughing. How could they be laughing? Couldn’t they hear me?
“Sarah! Sarah! Over here! Bring your brother, your Dad found the perfect spot.” I stopped in my tracks. That was Mom’s voice.
“Hey, Jakey! What do you think of this spot? Do you like it?” That was my dad’s voice.
Something was glowing in the grass. I followed the light and picked up the video camera. It was replaying the footage I shot when we arrived at our campsite earlier that day. I was back where I started. I’d been walking in a circle.
“Yeah! It’s cool, Daddy!” Jake’s sweet voice tore at my heart.
My knees buckled and I sank to the ground next to what was left of our tent. I put the camera down and pushed it away. I buried my face in Basil’s fur to muffle the sound of my own screams. I had to get a hold of myself. I shut my eyes so I didn’t have to see them, but the camera kept replaying the sound of my family’s voices.
“Vroom, vroom! Jakey’s an airplane!”
“Richard, stop that! You might drop him.”
“Sounds like Mommy’s a grumpy bear, Jakey.”
“Rick, are you sure there’s not any bears around here? The park ranger said not to leave the designated areas because this is foraging season or something.”
“It’s fine, Alley. Would I put my family in danger?”
I felt hopeless. Then I remembered Mom had a spare set of keys in her purse. The G.P.S was in the Cherokee, if I could get the keys, I could use the G.P.S to get me out of there. I frantically searched for my mom’s purse with only the light from my cell phone’s video camera. I found it and dumped the contents on the ground. I had the keys, Mom’s cell phone and Basil. I slung the camera strap over my shoulder and ran for the Cherokee. The play button was jammed. I couldn’t make it stop. I should have left it but I couldn’t, it was all I had left of my family. The camera kept playing. Jake was crying.
“No, no, Jakey. It’s okay, I’m sure there are no bears out here.” My own voice played back on the camcorder. “Mom, how’s that song go? I can never remember it.”
I was almost to the Cherokee. Mom’s cell phone jingled. A text message came through from Grandma. It had a signal. I dialed 911. There was a crash right behind me. Something hit me in the back and sent me flying forward. The camera hit the ground. It rolled away and so did my phone. I screamed as the huge beast grabbed my leg and began to drag me face down through the dirt.
“911, what is your emergency?” The operator’s voice came through my mom’s phone.
“Help me!” I screamed.
The raging animal shook me back and forth. Mom’s cell phone flew out of my hand. I screamed again as sharp teeth sunk into my back. Pain shot through my body a moment before I lost all feeling and went limp. It was dragging me again. More dark shapes moved in the shadows around me. What were they? They couldn’t be bears. It dragged me past the video camera and my phone. I was still clinging to Basil’s leg, my deadened fingers had locked, unable to let go.
Stuffing streamed out of the hole where his arm had been. Chunks of red covered the ground. The trailing bits of flesh and blood soaked stuffing were indistinguishable as it dragged me onto the big rocks around the campsite. The dark shapes surrounded me. I felt cold. My fingers opened and let go of Basil. I watched him fall and tumble end over end down the rocks landing next to the video camera. Over the groans and wet, smacking sounds of whatever had me, the last thing I heard was my mother’s voice singing to Jake.
“Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic!”